I never dreamed I would be in the kind of relationship I have today. In fact, 13 years ago, after my divorce, I sat down to make a list of what I was looking for in a man. Here’s what I found in my journal dated May 30th, 2001:
What I attracted 2 years post-divorce was a boyfriend who had the packaging, but not the goods. At the time I thought that even though he did not possess all the qualities I was looking for, once I stuffed him into a husband suit, the goods would come. (This, Sisters, is a mistake so many women make.) I held onto hope for almost 8 years before finally throwing in the towel.
The break-up devastated me.
When I met Matt a few years back, we did so as friends of a friend. I’d see him at their parties. I thought he was cute. We never had a proper conversation until a year and a half ago. I found him to be:
Clearly, a detour from the checklist I had written 13 years ago. Nonetheless, there was “something about him” and my intuition knew it before I got on board.
So why did I say yes to being in relationship with this man?
I want to share with you some what I have experienced with him in the last year and a half that recently reminded me that by looking exclusively for what seemed like a “finished product” in a man early on was actually completely off the mark. I also want to open your mind to the possibility that your ideal “The One” could actually be packaged quite differently…
1. A few months into our relationship, there was a suicide in my family. I took it really badly, spiraled down into a rabbit hole. Although I did not want him to see me wearing my darkness I said yes to him coming over anyway on one particular evening.
When he arrived, he found me by the fire pit, tear and snot stained, teacup in hand. He had two grocery bags filled with the makings for dinner, chocolates and flowers.
He asked me to stay put by the fire while he prepared our meal in my kitchen.
We ate in silence: me, shrouded; he, lovingly, holding space.
It took all I had to receive his gift of kindness and I was touched. One, that he would be willing to be with me when I was clearly so upset; two, that he wanted to take care of me. No one had ever done such a sweet thing.
Matt’s presence pushed my growing edges. This single act was the beginning journey in trusting I could ask for what I wanted. In truth, I really did want him with me, I just didn’t know I could be in the darkness and held in love simultaneously. He was the one to teach me this was possible.
Early in May he handed me a grocery bag. “A gift for you,” he told me. I opened it to find it filled with seed packets. Based on what he knew about me, about my tastes, he had hand-picked each one.
I then, over the course of three week-ends, helped him set up my garden, ensuring it was deer and critter resistant. It provided veggies for us all summer long and well into November.
When we shared our favorite moments of the summer, he told me that seeing how happy the garden had made me was one of his. Mine? The way he worked so diligently to make sure my desire for a garden was a reality.
3. The first time we went camping together, I suggested we have fish for dinner on the first night. I would make a chermoula and pick up fresh fish at the fishmonger’s so we could have a tagine. He told me not to worry about the fish. He would catch one for us.
Catch one for us? Yeah, I thought, we’re eating a vegetarian tagine for dinner….
We got to our site, set up the tent, got everything settled, put the canoe in the water and went out onto the lake. Half an hour later, he had caught a wide-mouthed bass and thanked it for graciously being our dinner. I was seriously impressed. The tagine was delicious.
I realized then, this was a man that makes things happen. I never doubt his ability. In fact, I have nothing but faith and trust in him.
4. In January, we took a trip to Montréal. We hadn’t really planned any activities except attending IglooFest. It was the first time we had traveled outside the country together and I wasn’t certain how it would unfold.
I discovered we travel the same way: we choose a destination, have a (really) loose plan, and let the city show herself to us. Without a direction our week-end had us ambling the snowy streets of the Vieille Ville, eating Poutine while people watching, attending a televised church service , dancing in the cold night with the rest of Montréal, and unsuspectingly walking into a Drag show.
He knows the tight but loose structure I need. The truth is, he is very much the same way. We both like to go and see what happens next. It’s not for everyone, this kind of unplannedness and space, but it make us excellent traveling companions. I so appreciate that about him.
5. When we are invited to parties and I show up first, I still find myself blushing when he walks into the room. I get butterflies. My heart feels open and my cheeks, flushed, when I see him. I still find that when we’ve been apart, I forget how much I’ve missed him until we are together.
Why share all these vignettes?
It’s to drive this point: None of the important aspects I have shared with you have anything to do with his degree, nor with the amount of money he makes, nor with the kind of place he lives in, nor with the kind of car that he drives. It doesn’t even have anything to do with how handsome he is (and I find him incredibly so.)
Upon first inspection, he did not match my “ideal man” checklist. Seemingly.
What I have shared has everything to do with who he is, with his desire to make me happy, to do with what he can to ensure I feel taken care of and provided for, and to do with how deep and abiding his love is for me.
In my past relationships, I didn’t know what I wanted, and if I did, I didn’t have audacity to ask. I was too busy being resentful and cranky that I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I was too invested in “Shouldn’t he just KNOW what I want and give it to me????” I was too entrenched in finding him wrong for just not delivering my goods… I was too married to the idea of the fairy tale man, not the man himself. I was too busy being a victim.
It took taking a long hard look at myself, take a Deep Dive into my limited beliefs, understanding, approving of, and loving every facet of me and learning to unabashedly express my desires to change the direction of my relationship. I could never have found out how amazing it feels to be loved, without first giving him the chance to show me.
It took me believing I was worthy and deserving of it first.
One of the reasons we think love might not be possible for us is because we haven’t approved of ourselves wholly. Deep down we think, “How can I meet a man that accepts that I’m not perfect and loves me for it anyway?”
When I look back at that list I wrote in 2001 and the statement “Someone who gets and loves me as I am” I realize I was looking for another to do for me what I had not yet done for myself. I did not love the totality of ME – just the pretty, acceptable parts.
That is what held the love I so desired back from me for so many years.
And the list? When I read it over and considered him, I realized he actually possesses each and every quality I was looking for.
I guess my heart knew it before I did.
Your Soulwork for this week is to tell me in the comments below what is one thing you do not approve of yourself? Be honest.
Recognize that the road to Love is circuitous, riddled with swamps and potholes. In transparently and vulnerably owning every facet of who you are, you begin your journey home to your worth so that you may open up to the DEEP SOULFUL LOVE you’ve always desired.
Listen, my love, as I have sounded this out for your pleasure. Click below:
P.S. While this material doesn’t cost you a cent, it came from my heart. All I ask is that you share this post with at least three friends. Fair trade, right? xoxo Joëlle
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